Use Of Police 'Defence' Spray In Focus

The use of incapacitant spray by Irish police officers is in the news today.

An Garda Síochána has published the Garda Commissioner's policy on the use of incapacitant spray.

The publication coincides with the phased deployment of and training in the use of incapacitant spray for members.

Training in the carriage and use of the spray commenced this week and is mandatory as only trained members will be authorised to carry and use the spray while on operational duty.

In October 2008 the Minister approved the Garda Commissioner's proposal to issue incapacitant spray to all operational members of An Garda Síochána.

This followed concerns about a marked increase in assaults and obstructions experienced by Gardaí in the course of their duty.

At that time the Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy (pictured) welcomed the Minister's approval saying that while members are trained to diffuse confrontation using a range of proportionate methods, it is important that where required and appropriate, members have access to incapacitant spray to ensure their own safety and that of others who may come to harm.

Now, the purpose of the policy document is to facilitate an understanding of the approach of An Garda Síochána to the use of incapacitant spray.

The policy emphasises their commitment to the protection of human rights and to the use of force only where non-violent means are ineffective and would expose officers and the public to a real risk of harm or injury.

"The fundamental principle underpinning the policy is that force is used as a last resort and the level and extent of the force used must be reasonable and proportionate to the circumstances," said a statement.

The full policy is available on www.garda.ie in the Publications section.


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